University of Delaware
UD alumnus Andy Panko is vying to become HGTV's "All American Handyman."


UD alum contestant on HGTV's 'All American Handyman'


11:42 a.m., Sept. 8, 2011--Andy Panko, a University of Delaware alumnus from Edison, N.J., is a contestant on the television show All American Handyman, seen Sundays from 8-9 p.m. on Home and Garden Television (HGTV). 

Panko, who graduated from UD in 2000 with a double major in finance and marketing, joined 19 co-contestants in the opening challenge to determine America’s best handyman or handywoman.

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Hosted by Molly Culver, competitors are judged by Mike Holmes of Holmes on Holmes and Scott McGillivray of Income Property, plus a secret weekly judge.

The grand prize is a $10,000 Sears prize package and HGTV development deal, and the opportunity to be declared the next All American Handyman. 

“The show premiered Sept. 4, and will run for six weeks,” Panko said. “I made it past the first week and will be on again next week and each week thereafter until I get eliminated or make it to the final.” 

The initial challenge called for contestants to create whatever they wanted out of two pieces of plywood. Three contestants were eliminated following the first competition. 

“We each got two pieces that were the standard ‘full sheets,’ 4 feet by 8 feet by three-quarters-inch thick,” Panko said. “The time given to complete the challenges ranged from a half-hour to more than five hours.” 

Panko said the some of the scenes were shot inside and outside of a large warehouse and workshop at the Brooklyn Naval Yard in New York City. Props and stages for Saturday Night Live also are built at the site, Panko said. 

Although a credit risk analyst at a large financial institution and an adjunct professor of finance for the MBA program at Rutgers University, Panko grew up in a home that was always under some kind of renovation. 

“I grew up around various stages of remodeling my entire childhood, and I worked in a plumbing supply warehouse during summers in high school and college,” Panko said. “I was always around construction and the trades and I was naturally fascinated by it all.”

Describing himself as a very hands-on and mechanically inclined person who is passionate about woodworking, Panko said he started small, hanging shelves, pictures and curtains. Next came building basic furniture and full-scale renovations including the complete demolition and remodeling of the kitchen in the Edison home he shares with his wife and two children. 

“The skill aspect developed over time, but doing well on the show also required the ability to think quickly and clearly,” Panko said. “It’s also important not to let yourself get too nervous. I think the show is self-selecting in that way.” 

Panko said it was interesting seeing the amount of work that goes into filming and producing each episode, and that he and his family enjoyed the change of pace from his work in the office and the classroom.

“My parents loved the idea, and knew I’d do well, and my wife felt the same,” Panko said. My kids (ages 2 and 4) are a little too young, but my oldest thinks its cool to see daddy on TV.”

Panko noted that friends and fellow Blue Hens can vote for him on the show by visiting the All American Handyman website.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

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